Not long after I started my own roastery and coffee shop in 2007 I noticed that even though we spent a lot of time time experimenting with different roast profiles and brewing techniques our coffees did not taste as good as I wanted them to. I realized that the main problem was our green coffee. I needed to understand how we could improve and make the quality more consistent. So, I decided to start working on a long term plan with a few selected farmers.
The first farmer I started working with was Jobneel Caceres Dios who is the owner of Finca Nacimiento in Santa Barbara, Honduras. In the first years we started separating the varieties and harvest times he had on his farm to better understand which ones tasted better. The second and third year, we worked on improving the processing on the farm. Sorting out unripe coffee cherries from the ripe ones, controlling fermentation and improving the wet mill. Then we realised that the patio drying of this coffee really made the coffee taste less clean and made the shelf life of the green coffee shorter, so we built new drying beds where the coffee is dried for two weeks under shade. The results were dramatically better.
Although all these improvements have happened gradually over 8 years and the results have not been noticed instantly, it has been the most rewarding journey. Personally I have learned a lot about what affects the quality of the coffee but also Jobneel's coffee has become a lot better. So much so that he got second place in the 2016 Honduras Cup of Excellence with his Bourbon coffee, only beaten by a Geisha variety.
Today, I don't have to spend countless hours in our roastery testing and experimenting, searching for something unachievable. Instead I spend my time on the farms making sure our green coffee is at its best potential. With great green coffee it makes our job a lot easier both as roasters and baristas. We find it a lot easier to roast and prepare a delicious cup of coffee when we can rely on Jobneel's quality control. All the work has also increased the value of Jobneel's coffee which has made it possible for him to invest in better infrastructure on the farm and build a new house for his family. In the end, we both win and that is why I love working with coffee farmers.
Tim Wendelboe is a coffee roastery, an espresso bar and a coffee resource and training centre located in Grünersgate 1, Oslo, Norway.